Vancouver Canucks Taylor Pyatt celebrates after scoring the winning goal. (CP PHOTO/Richard Lam)
But the fortunes of both Vancouver players changed Monday night when Luongo made game-saving stops and Pyatt scored a power-play goal with 15 seconds remaining in the Canucks 2-1 victory over the Dallas Stars. "Yeah, there was some pressure and we had a couple of good chances," Pyatt said after his seventh goal of the season which came after Stars' captain Brenden Morrow took an elbowing penalty in the offensive zone.
"It's tough when you get the opportunities but can't bury it. But we came out with the win and that's the most important thing."
Pyatt was parked in his usual spot - in front of rookie goalie Mike Smith when the puck came to him on the rebound after Mattias Ohlund hit the post.
Smith was out of position when Pyatt scooped the puck into the top corner on Vancouver's eighth power play of the game.
"I think coming in that we had to be patient," Pyatt said of the Stars, who are off to their best start in franchise history and had killed off 26 consecutive power plays on the road. "They don't give up a lot."
The teams entered the third period tied 1-1 after Canuck Kevin Bieksa scored a rare goal from centre and Eric Lindros's point shot beat Luongo.
The victory got the Canucks above .500 at 8-7-1 while Dallas, battling Anaheim for top spot in the Western Conference, slipped to 11-3-0.
Luongo gave his club a chance to win with 4:15 remaining when he came out of his net to smother a chance by Mike Modano who was left alone in front of the Vancouver goalie.
He then gloved the rebound off Jussi Jokinen while prone on the ice.
"When they gave it to Modano, he had his head down so I came out right away and tried to poke it away from him," said Luongo who stopped 19 shots as an injury-depleted Vancouver defence surrendered several break-ins.
"(Defenceman) Lukas Krajicek's stick got stuck in my pads so I couldn't get up. When I saw one of their guys trying to shoot the puck I just put a glove up there and I was able to stop it."
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault said before the game that Luongo had to play better and perhaps steal a game for the Canucks.
Markus Naslund felt he did.
"That's the difference between a good goalie and a great goalie," said Naslund. "He makes those saves and that's the reason we can win those games."
Modano said he'll see his missed opportunity in his sleep.
"I'll replay that in my head a hundred times when I'm laying in bed. I tried to get Roberto to commit but he came right at me and he played me right to my angle so he surprised me a bit."
Lindros tied the game after Luongo denied Modano on an earlier break-in. The goal was the fourth of the season and third in three games for Lindros, who signed as a free agent in July.
Bieksa had a little luck and employed some subterfuge when he opened the scoring in the first period.
"The scouting report was that (Smith) handles the puck well so I just tried to put one on net.
"A few people said it skipped. I thought it hit him and kind of maybe squeaked through. It was something where I put my head down and made it look like I was going to dump it around and the last second just put it on net."
Smith said he committed too early with his goal stick and the puck got past him.
"I just wanted to settle down and give the team a chance to win and for the most part I thought I did that but there's no excuse for a goal like that," he said.
But he did give the Stars a lift when he stoned Canuck rookie Alexander Edler by getting his stick on a second-period shorthanded breakaway.
NOTES: With key defencemen Willie Mitchell (concussion) and Sami Salo (knee sprain) on the shelf, Edler, a 20-year-old rookie, made his second start for the Canucks and earned his first NHL point ... Luongo also assisted on Bieksa's goal, his first point as a Canuck ... Vancouver continues its six-game homestand Thursday against the Anaheim Ducks ... Mike Burnstein made his 1,000th appearance as Vancouver's medical trainer ... he's outlasted five head coaches during that span.